Escape from Java: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the USS Marblehead tells the little-known
account of an American warships fight for survival during the opening days of the Pacific War. The old light cruiser Marblehead was badly damaged in a Japanese air attack during the Battle of the Flores Sea on February 4, 1942. She made it to a small port on the island of Java after a heroic effort by her crew kept the vessel from sinking. The warship could not stay long on Java – the doomed island was in the crosshairs for an enemy invasion. The Marblehead eventually made a remarkable 13,000-mile voyage back to the United States. However, not all of her crew were aboard for the journey home. A small group of her wounded sailors – deemed unable to travel on the long voyage - were left behind under the care of an American navy doctor. Faced with a desperate situation, the men staged their own a daring escape to Australia during the last days of the Japanese invasion of Java.
John Domagalski Copyright 2023
The light cruiser Marblehead seen at sea in 1924. Designed based on World War I technology, she was obsolete nearly two decades later when the United States was thrust into the Pacific War.
Sailors and local yard hands undertake emergency repairs on the after section of Marblehead in Tjilatjap, Java. A bomb narrowly missed the after turret before exploding deep inside the ship causing the deck to buckle and extensive interior damage.
The Mitsubishi G4M was known to the Allies at the Betty. The twin-engine bomber was in the forefront of Japanese advances in the East Indies during the early days of World War II.
"... Domagalski chose his subject matter well. He is to be commended for bringing the Marblehead back to life."
“… paints an engrossing tale of an obsolescent ship’s survival amid great odds set against the brutal early fighting of the Pacific War. This book will appeal to a wide audience not only as high wartime adventure but simply as a story of gritty perseverance when the odds are heavily against.”
Naval Historical Foundation
“Escape from Java is masterfully written.”
Naval War College Review
Wounded sailors are carried off Marblehead at Tjilatjap, Java. The most serious cases were taken by train to a Dutch Hospital in Jogjakarta.